4-Year old: Eating & Dressing

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    • #83958

      Our four year old is a bit too early to be formally diagnosed, but neuropsych testing shows his behavior is consistent with ADHD at home and borderline in his preschool. I (father) was recently diagnosed with ADD.

      Long story short: he takes a long time to eat food… and a long time put on his clothes in the morning. I’m talking close to 60 minutes to eat a meal, and 30 minutes to get his clothes on. We have a younger child as well, and my wife and I both go to work after dropping kids off. I’d love to hear any strategies to get through this period of the day. He’s simply so distractible while eating and trying to put on clothes. I do have him look at me, make eye contact, and I try to get him to repeat what he’s supposed to be doing. But that only lasts a few seconds, before he forgets and is excited/distracted by something else… such as his little brother, other toys, or anything else in the area that he can engage with. Next year he’s starting public schools and will need to take the bus at 7:30 every morning. I won’t have the flexibility anymore to let things run 30 or 60 minutes later depending how distractible he is on any given day.

      I really don’t want to nag over and over, or even worse get upset with him. I empathize with him as I share a lot of his personality… but I’m at the point I need to find more tools to make this time of day easier for everyone.


    • #83995
      Penny Williams

      I used a morning checklist and created a strict routine for mornings. It created an 80+% improvement. Here’s exactly what I did:

      Wake Up and Smell the Calmness

      Also, try breakfasts that can be eaten on the go: drinkable yogurt, smoothie, breakfast burrito, string cheese, etc.

      Remember too that 4 years old is very young for expecting self-sufficiency, even for tasks like eating a meal. And ADHD is a developmental delay, so he’s really functioning a year or more behind that.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #84259

      Thank you for your reply! Your advice and article is helpful.

    • #84527

      I am in a similar position. My son is 5 and I have a 2 year old daughter. My son is a bear to get ready in the morning and on days my wife has off of work, we have kept him home from 4K just because he would miss half of school by the time he got ready.

      We still struggle with him but some things that have helped us is basically turning everything into a game of sorts. Now with our son, this will last a little while then it isn’t a “game” anymore, its routine and he catches on to what we are doing lol. When getting dressed, we basically race him to getting ready. For our son he likes to be the “first one” when it comes to games and such so before I get ready for work, I go into his room and tell him that I am going to race him to getting dressed and if he wins, he gets to pick out what he wants for breakfast (actual breakfast options though, its not like he gets “anything” for breakfast). This helps quite a bit for us for getting dressed but we have to make sure we have the energy level for it because the more excited you are about it, the more he will find it exciting. My wife is a birth to five teacher for our school district and is currently teaching me Positive Solutions for our kids because sometimes my frustration level is too high and I need to work on keeping things positive. Negative emotions and actions with kids only makes things worse so always try to stay positive.

      With eating I sometimes ask my son to help get breakfast ready. He likes helping and getting out things needed for making oatmeal or waffles or cereal so I try to include him in that process. Obviously you still have to make sure to get things done and sometimes a kid can slow a process but I feel the time it takes him to get stuff instead of me is shorter than the tantrums he throws when I am pushing him to do things instead. I’ve also tried switching up where breakfast is eaten. Every once in a while we pull out the Little Tykes picnic table from the play room to the kitchen and have a change of scenery. If its nice outside maybe sit at the patio furniture or porch step.

      My son has not been officially diagnosed with ADHD but I have ADD and I see so many signs in him (aside from being a typical 5 year old) that he may have ADHD. I was diagnosed about 2 and a half years ago and it was such a relief because growing up I thought I was just a lazy kid. My mom was a single parent who worked a lot so I didn’t have a lot of support and it sucks knowing I could have accomplished so much more if I was diagnosed as a kid. As I mentioned before the most important thing (and I know this is hard some days…or a lot of days…) is to try and stay positive. Us ADD/ADHDers have such unique minds and we are unable to change to fit with the typical world so we have to change the world to fit with us. It takes time and I’ll admit I still have super hard days, but as long as you try, you are a great parent. In the words from one of my favorite movies “Never give up, Never surrender.” -Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story.


    • #109267

      Well, I can understand how you feel. My kid is also doing the same thing as soon as he is diagnosed with ADHD. I replace all clothes with his favorite cartoon character shirts and jeans of his own choice. Now, he wears his clothes in no time as he enjoys wearing them. You can also do the same. This might help you out with your situation. You can explore Reecoupons, they have exciting collections of kids clothes. I am sure your kid will like to wear them.

    • #109313
      Dr. Eric

      I have this conversation in different forms with about every family with an ADHD child that I work with…

      Here is what I recommend.
      – Environment — We have to keep the distractions as much to a minimum in these areas. Unfortunately for my daughter, this means no TV when my ADHD son needs to get something done. (Our family is better off with the TV off during the weekdays anyway.)

      – I am a big fan of visual schedules and checklists. Both of my kids were early readers, so we were able to get away with plastering dollar store white boards everywhere. For example, each child had their own white board in the bathroom and kitchen for their morning (bathroom) and after-school (kitchen) routines.

      If they are not ready to read, make a visual schedule that pairs the word with a Bing/Google/Stock image. You can make them pretty quick on most presentation or word processing programs. I recommend putting them in a plastic sheet protector from an office supply store. Then, the kids can use a dry-erase marker to track their steps and progress. It will take a while to implement, but it facilitates their executive functions and self-monitoring.

      If a child knows the steps, but is just slow or daydreams, you MAY want to consider timers or other methods of reminders. Be very careful though, it works great for some. However, I see it backfire where the reminder chime or timer becomes an aversive and the child is angry, scared, fearful, etc. of whatever is timing/reminding. We don’t want that…

    • #112899

      I understand your feelings because my daughter has the same issue, and it really broke my heart when I see her in this condition, anyways I agree with Julia, I also replace my daughter wardrobe with her favorite characters and funky dresses, but I got my daughter stuff from Couponsbiss.com, hope it will also help you.

    • #113033

      i totally agree with dr. eric and his opinion on visual routines. we were in the exact same situation and figured out it’s all about routines for us and our son. having clear morning routines was most helpful and saves us lots of time! we use the brili app for our son. we have set up individual routines for him that he follows through and is excited to get rewarded if he completed all his tasks on time. less nagging (unbelievable!), instead more positive vibes at home. i wish we had found it earlier, it would have saved us lots of energy.

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